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March 04, 2013

Finn Juhl, the UN Chamber and his Ordrup home.

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Trusteeship Council Chamber, 1952. UN Photo

You’ll be hearing Finn Juhl’s name in the news this month because the Trusteeship Council Chamber he designed for the United Nations headquarters in New York is being reopened. This chamber was a gift from Denmark to the United Nations and its construction cost roughly $20,000 in 1952. 

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Renovation in progress, 2012. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

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Trusteeship Council Chamber, 1965. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata

Juhl was just 38 when he was selected to represent his country in the creation of this meeting room located in the UN headquarters designed by Le Corbusier and Oscar Neimeyer. After years of use and alterations, the chamber has been fully restored with the furniture, lighting fixtures, draperies and other objects Finn Juhl designed for the room. The updated space will also include a chair and table designed by Kasper Salto and Thomas Sigsgaard, who won a competition sponsored by the Danish Arts Foundation.

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Seated in Finn Juhl chairs in the Council chamber are: Solomon Togbe Fleku, Joseph Henry Allassani, and Jacob Kwadwo Mensah. Circa 1954. UN Photo

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Watercolor sketch by Finn Juhl.

For his room, Juhl created a “total interior plan” that included the floorplan, color scheme and lighting, as well as the furniture, carpeting, draperies and wall coverings. The Danish architect strongly believed that furniture must be “participatory in the architectural space,” and when he designed a room or building he would also create nearly every object inside, seeking what he referred to as “a unity of things. Not a uniformity, but evidence of a complete thought process behind everything that you do.”

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Watercolor sketch of the Trusteeship Council Chamber by Finn Juhl.

He took the same approach with his own home, which he completed in 1942 and lived in until his death in 1989. Today, it is part of the Ordrupgaard Museum in Denmark. Juhl designed his home from the inside out, starting with the plan view and adding the facades afterwards. As described by the museum, “the house is composed of two blocks standing at right angles to one another. One block contains the public functions. The other comprises the more private spaces. A neutral entry foyer joins the two parts of this clearly articulated open plan.”

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Architect: Finn Juhl. Residence of Finn Juhl, Denmark.
Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

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On the board in his home office is a poster of the UN Chamber.
Photo: Gwendolyn Horton


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The living room in Finn Juhl's home. Photo: Ordrupgaard museum

He furnished his home with his own iconic works, including his Poet Sofa (1941), Chieftains Chair (1949) and Model 45 Chair (1945).

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The work corner in the living room. Photo: Ordrupgaard museum

Juhl’s impressive portfolio of work also includes the design all of SAS Scandinavian Airlines’ terminals in Europe and Asia. We look forward to seeing his fully restored and renovated Trusteeship Council Chamber soon. Stay tuned for updates.

 

Comments

If you have a chance visit this house near Copenhagen. It will give you a better understanding of Juhl's vision. It is a very modest house, but comfortable feeling. It also provides interesting touches of color--note the yellow ceiling in the living room and the blue window frames. The photograph on this site doesn't show the bright blue front door.

Also near Copenhagen is Arne Jacobsen's Bellavista apartments from the 1930s and a near-by restaurant for which he designed the furniture and tableware. The apartments have a beautiful view of the sea. Of course, there is more Jacobsen in Copenhagen but that is more well known.

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